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Friday, October 12, 2007

A Horror Bromance Revealed: The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters I--III

The first three chapters of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray provides an extended and highly quotable introduction to the main characters of the novel. Basil Hallaward, a painter, has discovered a living muse in the form of Dorian Gray, a relationship which is quickly growing into obsession. Lord Henry, a visiting friend, finds Basil's affliction intriguing and over stays his welcome in order to meet Dorian. Thus, the triangle of obsession between the three is formed.

After, an extended conversation with Lord Henry prior to and during his sitting for a portrait being painted by Basil, Dorian Gray goes from being merely vapid to being vain and vapid. Lord Henry is himself enthralled by Dorian's physical attractiveness, golden hair and true blue eyes, scarlet lips and unblemished fair skin, the usual list of late 19th century attributes of beauty. He remarks, "Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!," as he cautions Dorian to make the most of his beauty, because it's destined to fade. Dorian comprehends this when he views the finished portrait of himself and foresees the coming betrayal of time. He exclaims that he would give his soul to forgo the tragedy of losing his beauty.

Later , we learn that he is the son of starcrossed lovers, a wealthy beautiful woman, who ran off and married a soldier. Her father plots to reclaim her by nefarious means, the soldier dies in a duel which was apparently a set-up. Dorian meets Lord Henry for lunch as agreed during the portrait sitting; he is enthralled by his wit and his apparent understanding of LIFE itself, the way of the world if you would. This lunch concludes as the small salon with Basil, Lord Henry and Dorian did, with Dorian trailing behind the more worldly Lord Henry.

I never realized that The Picture of Dorian Gray was a horror/ bromance. I've always seen or heard the story referred to in terms of horror, like in the film,The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and he was always depicted as irresistible to the fairer sex. Go figure. This is going to be interesting.

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